For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Choosing Mom

I must have been seven or eight years old, first or second grade. A virus blew through, my fever spiked, and I was confined to the couch. For lunch, my mom heated up a can of beef and vegetable soup. She poured some in a bowl, and I ate part of that. Not much because my stomach wasn't much in the mood for eating, but enough. A little later I asked for some more knowing there was some left. I remember Mom's voice when she said, "I'm sorry. I left it on the stove and didn't put it in the fridge. I don't think it is any good now." I told her not to worry about it, it was no big deal. And it wasn't. But it was obvious it was a big deal to her. It was in her voice. That tone that feels like she somehow didn't do well, that she didn't take good care of her child, that somehow she failed. In her voice, I heard the guilt and sorrow.

Today I'm camped on the couch dealing with sinus issues that arise periodically. Between the draining sludge and all the meds running through my system, I am mostly sedentary. When I stand up, the room spins and my stomach rolls, and it is better for me to lie here and drink lots of fluids. WonderBoy helped me out and made my lunch. A can of beef and vegetable soup. He gave me part of it in a bowl, and I ate it all, put the bowl down, and dropped off to sleep. When I woke up, I needed more to drink, and as I passed by the stove, I saw the rest of the soup sitting in a sauce pain.

And I thought of Mom.

Today I would love to have some of her chicken and dumplings because those always feel good on my sore throat, but more than that, I would love to have her.

I would love for her perfume to fill my house.

I would love to talk and hear her laugh.

I would love to see her smile.

I would love to hug her. She gave amazing hugs.

I would love to simply have her here.

There are so many things I want to tell her, so much I understand now that I didn't understand then. I understand the strength it took to come home from a long day at work and make a meal every night for a family that took it for granted that she would do it.

I understand being a woman and how life doesn't go like you plan and how easy it is to make mistakes.

I understand wanting to get it right and the pain of getting it wrong and hurting those you love.

I understand that love covers a multitude of sins but it doesn't keep us from sinning against those we love most...even when we wish desperately that it would.

I understand choices she made and why.

And if I could tell her anything, I'd tell her I understand, and in case she wonders, I forgive everything I thought she did wrong...and everything she wished she had done better. I would tell her we are okay because I choose for us to be okay. I choose to admire her for her strength and her fortitude. I choose to be grateful for the things she did right.

I grew up in a time when parents were blamed for everything, and all they did was put under a microscope and picked apart and all their failures mentally recorded in great detail so therapists could get rich on those damning lists of sins. People remember the soup left on the stove that was no longer good to eat when they wanted it and forget that the soup was heated by a mom who stayed home from work and missed a day's wage to take care of a sick child. They never consider the mental turmoil of facing those lost wages and figuring out whether to pay the electric bill and eat beans and rice that no one liked for a week and listen to how tired of beans and rice people were or try to buy other food and figure out how to still keep the electric on.

It's easy to remember the sins, but it takes a decision to remember the sacrifice.

My mom was far from perfect. She said and did some deeply hurtful things that laid a horrific foundation for my identity and eradicated my sense of worth and value for a long time.

But here is the thing, my mom does not get to choose my identity. I do, and I choose an identity that does not hold on to the sins and the anger that comes with them. I choose not build a prison of anger and resentment founded on what a broken person did. If my identity is based on the actions of a broken person, doesn't that make me broken, too?

Instead, I choose to be one who forgives because I pray to God for my kids to forgive me. I choose to be grateful for her staying home and making the soup. I choose to remember the tone of her voice, the one that said she really did want to get it right, even the small things like soup when I was sick, and was sorry when she didn't. I choose to remember the smell of her perfume instead of the smell of her cigarettes.

Some would say I'm recreating her to make her the mom I wanted. No. I am fully aware of the hurtful things she did, and I could regale you with a list of the ways she was not the mom I wanted, but I choose to be grateful for the mom I really believe she wanted to be, and the mom she wanted to be was there when I needed her, providing what I needed when I needed it. And for that, I'm grateful.

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